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Agricultural greenhouse gas research levy is modest and fair

The Government's proposed levy on farmers to fund research into reducing the agriculture sector's greenhouse gas emissions is modest and fair, says the Convenor of the Ministerial Group on Climate Change, Pete Hodgson.

"Federated Farmers is waging a disinformation campaign against this levy," Mr Hodgson said.

"Federated Farmers knows that the Government has exempted agriculture from emissions charges the 'carbon tax' but is telling its members and the public that farmers are being taxed on emissions.

"Federated Farmers is saying it has not been consulted, but it knows that the policy was part of a nationwide climate change consultation process last year which included 11 meetings specifically for agriculture and forestry groups. The requirement for farmer-funded research in exchange for the exemption from emissions charges was confirmed after that consultation process, nearly eight months ago.

"Federated Farmers knows that Government funding of almost $5 million a year for agricultural emissions research will continue, but is claiming that farmers alone are being asked to bear the costs. It knows that success with this research is likely to bring gains in animal productivity, increasing farmers' wealth, yet it is claiming that it will only serve the public good.

"The fact remains that agriculture is responsible for more than half of New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions and farmers cannot expect taxpayers to shoulder the entire cost of addressing this. The $8.4 million a year that the research levy will raise is a very modest amount to ask from a $15 billion dollar industry - about 9c a year for each mature sheep and 54-72c a year for each mature beef or dairy animal.

"Farming thrives in New Zealand because it has a benign, stable climate that is ideal for pastoral agriculture. Farmers have a great deal to lose from climate change and they are being asked for a fair and reasonable financial contribution to help address the greenhouse gas emissions from their own business."

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